In 2012, a Dutch non-profit organisation announced plans to be the first to establish a colony on Mars by 2025. It’s called the “Mars One” project. The idea is to send four astronauts to Mars, where they are to spend the rest of their lives building the first settlement. A new team of four will land every two years, and eventually they plan to use trees that they have grown to build more living units.
Mars One claims that this can be done using today’s technologies, but engineers at MIT say the project may have to take a step back, at least to reconsider the mission’s technical feasibility.
MIT researchers developed a detailed settlement analysis tool to assess the feasibility of the Mars One mission.
They found that new technologies will be needed to keep humans alive on Mars, reported MIT News, and went on to say: “For example, if all food is obtained from locally grown crops, as Mars One envisions, the vegetation would produce unsafe levels of oxygen, which would set off a series of events that would eventually cause human inhabitants to suffocate. To avoid this scenario, a system to remove excess oxygen would have to be implemented, a technology that has not yet been developed for use in space.”
“We’re not saying, black and white, Mars One is infeasible,” de Weck, an MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems, says. “But we do think it’s not really feasible under the assumptions they’ve made. We’re pointing to technologies that could be helpful to invest in with high priority, to move them along the feasibility path.”
But Mars One has no plans to stop at this stage. The candidates have gone from the initial 202,586 to just 100, at this stage, and there will still be more cuts. They have released the names of the “Mars One Round Three Candidates.” The candidates will now have to demonstrate their ability to work well in a team, training in a Mars One outpost on Earth.
“Being one of the best individual candidates does not automatically make you the greatest team player, so I look forward to seeing how the candidates progress and work together in the upcoming challenges,” said Dr. Norbert Kraft, in press releases.
I’m not sure how this will go. There seem to be a few issues to sort out if they are going to stay on track to launch in 2024. But I will be watching closely to see how this develops.